Nearly four years removed from Baylor’s announcement that Dave Aranda would take the helm of the football program as head coach, Aranda will remain in Waco for the upcoming 2024 season! The Baylor Football team has had a string of highs and lows over the past four seasons (we could go all the way back to the 2016 season of death and money bags if we wanted to compare real peaks and valleys), results of which many have attributed to Aranda’s coaching methods, style, assistant choices, and overall fit for the program. Expectations about and for the head coach were mixed when Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades carefully and prudently selected Aranda to succeed previous coach M*tt Rhule who left for the NFL in early 2020. Aranda is a meticulous, brilliant (about football and apparently every other topic in the world), cerebral, and gentle coach and leader, which he displays both on and off the field. After only two seasons in charge, Aranda led the football team through the most successful season in program history, was named the Associated Press’ Big 12 Coach of the Year, and rightfully earned the 2022 George Munger Coach of the Year award by the Maxwell Football Club! Under Aranda’s leadership, the Bears went from 2-7 in 2020-21 to 12-2 in the 2021-22 season. The team secured a program-high 12 wins, recorded their first-ever Big 12 Championship title game victory, had first and only New Years 6 bowl win in the CFP era, and notched 5 wins over Top 25 opponents for their most top-25 wins in a season since at least 1974. Since the Bears’ miraculous 2021 success, they’ve experienced growing pains with changes impacted by NIL and the transfer portal, allowing promising student athletes to find homes in other schools and programs whenever and wherever they please. Aranda has proven he’s willing to make hard choices such as firing his defensive mentor in former Baylor defensive coordinator Ron Roberts (now at Auburn) and hiring and firing coordinators and coaches on both sides of the ball when the team didn’t meet his expectations. But although Baylor has had two consecutive seasons plagued with issues exacerbated by immeasurable youth, injuries, and inexperience or even a lack of talent and size at certain positions, Baylor and Rhoades are right to keep Aranda in charge at least for 2024. The combination of NIL and the transfer portal has remarkably and permanently changed the landscape of college athletics and how coaches and programs need to operate. Aranda admitted he didn’t aggressively pursue options in the transfer portal or expand NIL resources (which is a whole other ballgame) as he perhaps should have last year to encourage experience in the years coming, but not many coaches in today’s realm would ever note such an error. While some other Baylor fans (and I note “some” because I truly believe the antagonistically vocal ones are in the minority) may have called for Aranda’s removal from the program, Mack Rhoades’ judgement is clear and steadfast and he (and Aranda) are far more astute and poised for today’s college football climate than anyone else. And if Baylor fans want to be like Texas A&M or Texas—flipping between coaches and paying tens of millions in buyouts every handful of years just to be mediocre once again—perhaps this isn’t the right program to cheer for. I choose to cheer for Aranda and his coaching staff and the players who all want to win more than any one of us and cross my fingers for success next year and beyond!